Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Al-Junayd said, "I got up one night to keep my period of private night prayer, but I did not experience my usual consolation. I decided to go back to sleep but I could not. So I sat up, but I could not do that either. So I opened the door and went outside, and there was a man wrapped in a woolen cloak lying on the path.
When he noticed me, he raised his head and said, "O Abū 'l-Qāsim come quickly!'
'Right away, good sir,' I replied.
The he said, 'I asked the Inciter of Hearts to arouse your heart.'
'He has done just that,' I responded. 'What is that you need?'
He asked me then, 'When does the disease of the lower self become its own remedy?'
I replied, 'When the lower self acts against its passions its disease becomes its cure.'
The man was pensive for a moment and then said, 'Had I given you that answer seven times you would have rejected it. But now you have heard it from al-Junayd, so you have listened to it.'
Then he turned away from me but I did not know him. -Ibn 'Abbād of Ronda: Letters on the Sūfī Path. Translation and Introduction by John Renard, S.J. Preface by Annemarie B. Schimmel. (New York: Paulist Press, 1986), pgs. 120-1.
I also met with a young black man who worked at McDonald's. He and I chatted for a while. He informed me that, to him and his friends, politics was totally irrelevant to their lives. It was not something they cared about or even talked about.
Frankly, this lack of political consciousness is exactly what the ruling class of this country wants. The Koch brothers spend hundreds of millions to elect candidates who represent the rich and the powerful. They understand the importance of politics. Meanwhile, people who work for low wages, have no health insurance, and live in inadequate housing don't see a connection between the reality of their lives and what government does or does not do. Showing people that connection is a very big part of what a progressive political movement has to do. How can we bring about real social change in this country if people in need are not involved in the political process? We need a political revolution. We need to get people involved. We need to get people voting.-Bernie Sanders, Our Revolution (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2016), p. 66.
Monday, May 29, 2017
This was the condition of the man who, as he considered making Pilgrimage, made a request of Bishr al-Ḥāfi. Abū Naṣr al-Tamār relates that a man came to bid farewell to Bishr ibn al-Ḥāruth, saying, "I am eager to make the Pilgrimage, so give me some instructions."
Bishr said to him, "How much money do you have for your sustenance?"
The man replied, "A thousand dirhams."
"And what prompts you to make your Pilgrimage?" Bishr asked. "Is it entertainment, or a yearning for the House, or a desire to please God?"
"A desire to please God," said the man.
Bishr asked further, "And if you could please God Most High by staying home and spending the thousand dirhams, and you were sure this would please God, would you do it?"
"Yes," said the man.
"Then give it to ten people," Bishr said. "Then the person of faith can fulfill his religious practice, and the poor person can get back on his feet, and the father of a family can make his family prosper, and the one who is raising an orphan can give him joy. So if the One God gives you heart the strength to give the gift, do it. For surely your bringing happiness into the heart of a Muslim, and your sending rain to the sighing, and your alleviating the pain of the destitute, and your affirming a man who is weak in certitude are all more excellent than hundreds upon hundreds of proofs of Islam. go and disperse the money as I have advised you. Otherwise tell me what is truly in your heart."
The man said, "O Abū Naṣr, my journey [e: the desire to make the journey] is uppermost in my heart."
So Bishr smiled and approached him and said, "When money is gotten through unfair and suspicious business practices, that goads the lower self into conceiving a desire to hasten toward outwardly pious works. But God Most High has sworn that He will accept only the actions of the God-fearing." [Q5:27]
When Bishr had said this, the man wept.-from Letter 6 of Ibn 'Abbād of Ronda: Letters on the Sūfī Path. Translation and Introduction by John Renard, S.J. Preface by Annemarie B. Schimmel. (New York: Paulist Press, 1986), pg. 117.